Who Will Watch the Wearers of the Watchers?


sousveillance bling

More on the political importance of the next generation of tiny video cameras and the first-person view they capture, plus the coining of a new term from the new mag, H+:

Sousveillance—the inverse of surveillance—is the general activity of an individual capturing a first-person recording of an activity from his or her own perspective as a participant in the activity.  Rather than watching "from above," the French "sous" means "under" or "from below."…

While camera phones and similar portable technologies make capturing incidents like [Robert] Dziekanski's death possible by the average citizen, new integrated technologies such as the SenseCam, electric seeing aids, visual memory aids for the elderly, and Personal Safety Devices (PSDs) that record our entire lives have the potential to alter radically our notions of personal protection—and also keep those "higher up" honest and informed. These technologies include wearable, implantable, and body-borne computing devices. PSDs in particular can also provide cheap life insurance by functioning like the "black box" flight recorder on an aircraft in case of a personal incident.

More in my article from the June print mag on the super cool camera-behind-glass-eye Eyeborg project here.

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  1. Sounds great.

    As long as I am allowed to ban them from my property, and you get to go pound sand if you’ve used the “implantable” type.

  2. I want mine with an always on internet connection, constantly archiving its film to a website of my choice. Compound that with an internal backup and tamper resistant case and I can be the bane of crooked cops everywhere.

  3. a) How long until it became illegal to record cops and govt officials with them?
    b) How long until it became mandatory to have them, and allow cops and govt officials to review the recordings? Sure, they’ll have to get a warrant first, unless you’re crossing a national border and it needs to be established that you broke no laws while overseas?

    As for inplantable electronic devices, I have a feeling that non-nuclear EMP is going to be the hot new tech for the 21st century and therefore don’t really want any electronics inside me, thankyewveddymuch.

  4. Fluffy, if I have a tiny camera implanted in my eye, you wouldn’t have any way of knowing or enforcing your silly rule. I mean, I support your right bladity-blah, but come now.

  5. How long until it became mandatory to have them, and allow cops and govt officials to review the recordings?

    The Final Cut

  6. So we all get the Katie Couric colon-cam? 🙂

  7. Is the second ‘s’ silent?

    What about the future prevalence of doctored video footage? Surely we can’t be too far away from realistic looking footage that’s completely fabricated?

  8. The film “Brainstorm” is a bit dated, but still worth checking out.

  9. Strange Days is a Brainstorm without the Christopher Walken.

    But the soundtrack is much better, so it balances.

  10. I think a porn director has been doing this a few years now.

  11. Just reading the phrase “without the Christopher Walken” is enough to cause pain…

  12. How long until it became mandatory to have them, and allow cops and govt officials to review the recordings?

    How long before the wife makes it mandatory? Shit, the cell phone’s bad enough.

  13. jasno, yes it is, and the term has been around for years.

  14. My utility fog acts as an occular array, recording 360/realtime video and audio. Parallel encrypted feeds go to my lawyer, my doctor, and my insurance company, with decryption keys transmitted upon arrest, injury, or accident. Fog also wipes my ass, jerks me off, shaves me, and temporarily nullifies the vocal cords of small children who drift into my Zone.
    Jehovah’s Witnesses are dissembled at the molecular level.

  15. All this talk of “citizens” using surveillance to keep the powers that be and there surveillance in check has been around since at least the 90’s…I think I first read about the notion in an issue of Wired back then.

    I can see both the pros and cons with the whole business. Of course, the cat is already out of the bag, and so I suppose it’s best that liberty lovers do the best with what we’ve got…

  16. there=their

    Hate it when I do that…

  17. Since the only reason anyone is concerned about sousveillance is the possibility that the recording will eventually go public, it seems fair to assume that most attempts to squash such recordings (except perhaps in cases where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy and no public business is involved) are pre-emptive attempts to control speech. Hopefully any laws that attempt to suppress such recording will be struck down as such.

  18. So much for personal privacy. Having a cell phone on me at all times is bad enough, but at least I can turn that thing off. But this will be on all the time (probably) and constantly update people on everything,

    Besides, the whole idea is just kinda creepy.

  19. This would make stalking a lot easier. The paparazzi would be out of a job.

  20. This is the 1984 telescreen, but going one step further — installed on your person, so there’s no possibility of being out of its range.

    You SO have to not care about your privacy to wear something like this. Or, live such a boring, sexless, squeaky-clean life that you’re not worried about anyone reviewing any aspect your life.

  21. Hmmm…seems to me that the location of this device focuses directly at a woman’s breasts. I’m suspecting ulterior motives here.

  22. oh jeez, prole – sure, you can think that it’s the 1984 telescreen, but given that it’s entirely within the power of the user to affirmatively implant it, turn it on and off and choose how, when and where to broadcast…well, it’s the exact opposite of the telescreen.

  23. I recommend ‘Earth’ by David Brin if you want some insight into a society where everyone is videoing everything in public.

  24. “Sousveillance” est le mot stupide jamais invent? bitch!

  25. “Having a cell phone on me at all times is bad enough, but at least I can turn that thing off.”

    no you can’t, not anymore. NSA owns you now.

  26. Dear Katherine

    Please do not ever quote Steve Mann ever again. A friend of mine had the “priveledge” of working with him – he creates a giant expansive lexicon of self-referential articles in wikipedia, as an attempt to legitimize his research which of course is run on the dime of the Canadian taxpayer.

    The notion of “sousveillance” is not an invention of steve mann… He only coined the term, which, so far, few other people have adopted.

  27. “Sousveillance” is quite nice on the page but suffers from consonantal indistinctness in spoken language.

    Gronkulator‘s a good generic word for such a device.

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